Revamped Pioneer Mountain Bike Race returns to Queenstown in 2018
The Pioneer Mountain Bike Stage Race is back, with a new date of November 25-30 2018 and a new format.
Race founder and IRONMAN Oceania managing director Dave Beeche has confirmed the two person team race would be based entirely around Queenstown next year, rather than traversing the Southern Alps from Christchurch.
Organisers staged the Christchurch to Queenstown race in early 2016 and again in 2017 before deciding to delay the next race until later in 2018.
They have taken stock of the event, the timing and the format with the long-term success of The Pioneer in mind.
Beeche said he was delighted that the due diligence exercise had such a positive outcome.
"We are back. The Pioneer will be better than ever thanks to the time taken these past few months to review the format, location and course," he said.
Riders would start the six-stage race in Queenstown and explore remote back country before finishing back in Queenstown.
"The team has done an amazing job in creating a new course that will be as challenging as ever and with more single track to enjoy. There will be some incredible climbs that will see our riders finding character for sure, with stunning views to take in along the way.
"Spending six days with your mate riding in the back country is a huge part of the experience, so we have stayed true to that ethos of the event, this is something to be shared for sure," he said.
One of the most significant changes was starting and ending The Pioneer in Queenstown.
This would make it easier for riders and supporters to participate and follow the event, and boost the already world-class tourist region of Central Otago, away from the busiest time of the year, Beeche said.
Riders have a chance to win one of 15 entries to the Absa Cape Epic mountain bike stage race in South Africa in 2019.
Beeche said more information would be revealed over the next few months. The course would be revealed in early November before entries opened on November 24.
Demand for entries was expected to be high, Beeche said.
The 2017 Pioneer saw 338 riders take part (286 males and 52 females). Of those, 151 came from Central Otago and 154 were international riders, including 95 from Australia.